Get involved! Service-Learning Opportunities in Western MA

Get involved! Service -Learning Opportunities in Western MA

How better to participate and learn through your community than a service-learning project? Service-learning projects can help youth connect with others while learning about their world.

Since just about anything can be a learning experience, this list will include both opportunities where the learning is obvious, along with opportunities where the learning is more subtle.

While there are lots of “Projects,” and opportunities for children to volunteer, why not just ask an organization that you respect if they need some help? Most groups need regular help with administrative tasks, including Hilltown Families. Asking is an easy way to get your family involved in something that you care about. Just about every social service agency, not for profit, and community can benefit from the support of others.

Here are some specific projects to check out:

The Amherst Farmers’ Market needs volunteers to help run their Snap Benefits, ATM and credit machine on Saturdays. This is a great opportunity for a responsible teen that needs some job experience and a good reference while learning about the operations of a local farmers’ market. Contact Kristie at 413-768-0781.

It Takes a Village is a great way to introduce your older children to the challenge and beauty of raising young children. It Takes a Village is a free community service that supports families for the first three months after a baby is born. A family is matched with a volunteer who visits them at home on a weekly basis to help them through the challenges that a newborn brings. Support includes anything from meal preparation and dish washing, to companionship and playing with older children. Everyone needs help when they have a baby. The organization could match you and your child with another family, and you could visit together. Read more about them at www.hilltownvillage.wordpress.com.

The LGBT Coalition of Western MA offers services and support to the LGBT community. The situation for LGBT children and youth is often precarious. According to the Coalition, LGBT children are grossly overrepresented in the homeless youth population. The LGBT Coalition has numerous opportunities for volunteers. They seek people who are interested in doing outreach, administrative work and a variety of other tasks, a possible opportunity for responsible teens. You can learn more about the organization at www.lgbtcoalitionwma.org.

The Amherst Survival Center has volunteer opportunities for teens ages 15yo+ on weekdays (not Wed). Shifts are typically 2 hours/week between 9am-3pm. There are several places for teens & adults to volunteer. ASC representative wrote,  “We look for a minimum of a two hour/week commitment for a minimum of 8 weeks…If volunteers are able to get here in the morning, we need help organizing and sorting through fresh bread and produce from area markets and farms which we then distribute to about 100 people each day. If they have a super organized closet, they may be a good fit for helping in our Free Store. Certain days we also need help serving lunch and doing dishes. Our Emergency Food Pantry often needs help keeping the shelves stocked and helping folks fill their carts with their monthly food “box.” Strong folks can help pick up furniture from around town in the mornings. People who like to clean can help clean the place after 2:30PM. There are lots of options.” For more information email tracey@amherstsurvival.org.

Local Festivals let kids see the power of people working together. Many of the local summer festivals are run by an army of volunteers. The Garlic and Arts Festival in Orange, MA has opportunities for people to sign up individually or in groups, and the Green River Festival, in Greenfield, MA, also has a few volunteer positions open for this year.

Other service-learning opportunities include Rachel’s Table Gleaning Project,  ZOO in Forest Park and Education Center, and river/park clean-ups.

Do you have a service-learning or volunteer opportunity to recommend?  Post in the comment field below!


ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Theresa Heary-Selah — Theresa is a teacher and a freelance writer, making her home in Greenfield, MA and Wright, NY with her family.  She teaches at S.H.I.N.E. (Students at Home in New England), a social and academic support program for middle school students in the Pioneer Valley, and writes about home-schooling and technology.  Theresa’s interests include home-schooling, gardening, cooking, hiking, and dancing.

Leave a Comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: